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I discovered something today; there is a park directly behind my house. It has been there all along, it’s castle themed playground filled with joyous children swinging on swings and sliding down slides, but I never knew it was there because of the fence and decrepit house blocking it from my view. If I had simply walked outside and rounded the corner down to the next street, it would have led me straight there. I simply never went outside, never looked beyond the old wire fence or rotten wooden house. I never found it because I was never looking for it. Until today.

Today we decided to have a good day. All days should start with making that decision, though they seldom do. We decided to do errands around the house, the ones we had been putting off, and to make a trip to the park and to the store to get out of our daily routine. Staring at each other and the walls surrounding us had started to make us crazy. Or maybe we already were for choosing to sit there, surrounded by those walls. Anyways, as I was saying, we went to the park (the castle-themed-playground park that I hadn’t known existed until today). We climbed up the “rope walls” and crossed the wooden “bridges”. We swang on the tire swing- which rusty chains looked ready to give from the stress of our weight- and watched as the world spun around us in a sea of gloriously disorienting colors. We took pictures together and of each other doing silly things on the playground, then laughed at our own silliness, and at the pictures of it too.

The problems of the world were far from view and the weights it brought were far from my aching shoulders.

In a place I hadn’t know existed, a place that was always so near, I found something I had forgotten I’d lost; happiness. The problems of the world were far from view and the weights it brought were far from my aching shoulders. I felt closer to the man I loved than I had in weeks and my face hurt from smiling so much.

As the sun set, it was time to leave. We still had errands to run and the temperature, having already been cold, was continuing to drop. So off we went to the store.

Needing a few random items for our home (such as light bulbs and manilla envelopes), we stopped at the local dollar tree. Still in a positive mood from our outing to the park, we wandered around the aisles talking and wasting time while carelessly looking for the items we needed. We rounded the corner and stumbled upon the aisle containing light bulbs. Walking towards them, I felt a tug on my coat sleeve, stopped, and looked down.

Standing in the aisle with hands gripped on my coat sleeve was a little boy, no older than five or six, who looked as if he hadn’t bathed in years. His hair was filled with dirt, his face was splotchy from food stains, his clothes were tattered and worn, and he was wearing no shoes. Standing directly behind him was–I suppose him to be–his father, looking just as filthy, smelling of liquor and sh*tty parenting. The two of them had been right in front of me and I hadn’t seen them until the little boy grabbed me. How had I been so absorbed in my own little world that I couldn’t see the hurting little boy in front of me? How had I not seen his bare feet or tear streaked cheeks? How could I not have heard his father yelling at him?

Just then, the boys father jerked his son away from me and yelled at him for bothering me. I quickly stammered that he was fine, that I was fine….

I hadn’t seen them until I had looked for them.

The man just ignored me and marched his bare footed son out of the aisle and to some place out of my view, something he wouldn’t have needed to do until his son reached out to me. I hadn’t seen them until I had looked for them. I stood there, brow furrowed, staring after the child that I so badly wanted to help but had no clue of what to do. And I became frustrated. I found something that I hadn’t know I had lost; my fight. Being consumed in my own little world, staring at the walls of my problems surrounding me, I had become blinded. I had lost my fight to care, to try.

We left the store and pilled into our truck. As we drove home, I watched the rain drops blur the world around us in a sea of confusing, disorienting colors.

Olivia Red